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The Free Market is No Friend to the Environment

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posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 08:32 PM
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First off, I share some, if not a lot, of Libertarian values. It's just that I think, like all political and religious ideologies, Libertarianism is not divine, or based on empirical evidence, in all of it facets. This is just one in particular, albeit important, flaw I see in the ideology and our current economic practices that reflect it.

The old libertarian idea of, "It is my right to acquire, consume and waste what I want and however much I want, as long as I'm not dumping the waste on my neighbor's property" is outdated.

In today's global economy of oil based consumerism, it's very difficult to see the direct result of our consumption. The waste is much more "hidden." Often, it's either completely invisible or it gets lost in the muddy waters of the distribution process.

None the less, when we mindlessly consume and disregard the waste produced from it, whether consciously or unconsciously, it is infringing on another person's life. It affects the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and all of the ecosystems that make all of that possible in the first place.

The planet is symbiotic. We can not isolate ourselves from that fact, whether we want to or not.

The free market does not create real equilibrium. The invisible hand of the market is only good at balancing supply and demand. It has proven to be horrible at balancing the ecosystems.

There need to be limits on what we can pull out of the ground, consume and waste. And those limits need to be based on empirical scientific evidence. And when we don't know for certain, we should err on the side of caution.

There is enough empirical scientific understanding for us to produce the things we need, and, as technology grows, more and more of the things we want, while still being in alignment with the natural order. The problem is only in our designs, values and practices, not in our practical capabilities.

In our current paradigm, we assume that the ecosystems are there for us to use as we please, as long as it's good for the "economy." And environmental conservation, protection and alignment is fine, as long as there is profit in it.

That system is simply not working. The free market reigning supreme over everything has caused a lot of environmental degradation and it isn't slowing down. We need a new paradigm.

The economy should be a subset of the ecosystem, not the other way around, like it is now. Alignment with the natural order should be the box, or the limit, and then the free market and its invisible hand could function within those limits. (This is known as ecological economics)

Would we need to sacrifice some of our wants and conveniences?

Yeah, probably so, for the time being. But we are sacrificing right now.. the PLANET and our FUTURE for a lot of our mindless and irrational wants.

Look, we all love freedom, no matter what our ideologies are, but we are only as free as our choices and our choices are not without consequence. I can't wake up tomorrow and choose to be "free" of gravity. Nor can I mindlessly consume and expect to be "free" of destructive waste.

Remember, nature doesn't really have "waste." In nature, waste is really nutrients for other systems. It's a cycle.. a closed loop. We can either align with it and flourish or ignore it and suffer the consequences... which we are "free" to do so, of course.

How we transition towards this paradigm is obviously complex and I certainly don't have all of the answers. I have some ideas (like better education, local production and less propaganda to describe a few) that I would be happy to get into with anyone interested.

I'm also not proposing some radical, imposed transition, so please spare me all of the "communist, socialist, Marxist and utopianists" remarks. In many ways, I think it should be our right to destroy ourselves.

Libertarian value...??

Problem is, while some of us choose to continue business as usual, degrading the planet, we're harming others at the same time who are not interested in destroying themselves and their environment.. I consider that to be a form of infringement..

Not a Libertarian value..

We have to figure out where to draw the line.. That's what societies do..

Hopefully we've matured enough as a species that we choose to base those lines on science and love, instead of dogma and selfishness.




posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 08:53 PM
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This is an understatement. We passed the point where we could produce more than we actually need to live good over a century ago. We work long hours when it is completely no reason. The market system is not supposed to be a way of life, it is supposed to be a way to exchange goods and services, and when we come around to this reality, we will be much better off for it.



posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 09:14 PM
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We need to come around to the reality that consumption creates waste even when we pretend it's not there and humans are not insignificant to the dynamic equilibrium of the planet.

Trading goods in theory is not a problem. It's the out of control effects of acquiring and using those goods mindlessly.. Or even worse, consciously, but uncaring.



posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 09:15 PM
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True.

The reason the free market is no friend to the environment is IMO due to the process of ongoing globalization and internationalization of corporations.

Environmental protection is heritage protection, and thus a very patriotic obligation.
Why should international corporate groups honor patriotic obligations, when they lost their national identity and responsibility?
edit on 31-1-2013 by ColCurious because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 09:30 PM
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reply to post by ColCurious
 


I absolutely agree that globalization has had a really negative effect on the environment, as well as the social environment.

And you make an interesting point about heritage and foreign governments or organizations not respecting that..

However, the planet has no borders. Only we do.. I'm speaking as an American here. We could isolate ourselves from the rest of the world and attempt to create a sustainable continent in North America, but if other countries on other continents destroy their environments, it has an inevitable effect on ours. So we are going to have to figure out a way to agree as a planet.

I agree with you though, that going local will solve many problems, especially environmentally. When people get the things they need from their local environment, they tend to take care of it and the people in it much better!



posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 09:34 PM
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reply to post by ColCurious
 


I think you are losing the tree in the forest. The idea of market is system view, there are unchangeable rules that guide the operation of economic markets and then there are policies (political and social systems) than influence the operation of the system and then there is human behavior that has no regard for unmovable rules or the dictates of policies, this human factor is the flea in the back of the economic elephant that ultimately makes it move.

Free markets tend to look only to the inner workings, the fixed rules and requires a very balanced set of policies but has no account to the fact that the system is driven by human wants and needs. As an idea is an utopic view of capitalism, note that it is still capitalism just a form that establishes a need for laws and policies that will not hinder market operators to perform freely. Capitalism itself is an ugly monster that requires constant feeding and infinite resources like the growth of a cancer that is never satisfied and has no care for its host beyond the satisfaction of its huger for growth, the more aggressive an operator is in the market the more chance it has to succeed and here lies the downfall of capitalism its myopic view and appeal to the worst traits of humanity.

If you look into nature, even virus you see that the goal is ultimately to find a balance a symbiosis, this under a competitive capitalistic system can not occur unless we let free markets develop into monopolies but then we get into the same problems of socialism that is the path of state monopoly (in a perfect socialistic system for the good of the citizens but we all know how that goes).



posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 09:53 PM
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reply to post by Panic2k11
 


Ahh.. the virus and cancer analogies.. Unfortunately they are good ones.

There is no doubt this system requires infinite growth to be sustainable. Which is impossible on a finite planet. It's beginning to become a cliche, but no one seems to know how important it is.. Kind of weird.

I think the problem is that we still assume growth requires more and more consumption, or depletion of resources..

I have heard of an idea proposed by Bill McDonough. (recommend checking this guy out) The idea is that if materials can actually be recycled or up-cycled (as opposed to down-cycling like we mostly do now, where materials loose quality the second time through) at the end of their life cycle, you could still have constant "growth" without degrading the environment. When the materials get used, they go back into the system, retaining their original quality, and come out in a completely different form for a different purpose..



posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 09:56 PM
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I think the problem is that we still assume growth requires more and more consumption, or depletion of resources


The problem is that we have been brainwashed to assume that we must have growth at all costs.
Sustainability is what we should be moving towards.



posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 10:02 PM
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Originally posted by Reflection
reply to post by ColCurious
 

I agree with you though, that going local will solve many problems, especially environmentally. When people get the things they need from their local environment, they tend to take care of it and the people in it much better!

Exactly.
I think we have proven this to be true here in Germany, besides the fact that environmental corporate policies can very well be economically beneficial.
As for the part of the environment being "globalized" in it's nature, one can only hope that a better QoL will inspire other nations and corporations to follow our example.
edit on 31-1-2013 by ColCurious because: typos and translation issues



posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 10:14 PM
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reply to post by Panic2k11
 


Originally posted by Panic2k11
Capitalism itself is an ugly monster that requires constant feeding and infinite resources[...]

We have different understandings of capitalism then.
What you're talking about is considered "locust-capitalism" here. As in a locust-pest.
This is a matter of environmental awareness and integrally sustainable market-philosophy though, and subsequently an issue of education IMO.
edit on 31-1-2013 by ColCurious because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 10:26 PM
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reply to post by CB328
 


I definitely agree we need to move towards sustainability.. I think I made that pretty clear in my post.

The Bill McDonough idea, hypothetically, could allow for both "growth" and sustainability at the same time.

Kind of similar to what I was talking about in the OP. It could be "growth", even..wait for it... competition, within the confines of the natural order. If you are not constantly pulling resources out of the planet and burning them, instead using already extracted and abundant resources, you could still be sustainable at the same time.

Obviously, there are other factors when it comes to sustainability and other valid criticisms of capitalism regarding social health, like irrational and inhumane competition for survival when there is more than enough to go around... But I think the biggest problems right now regarding our management of the environment are how we extract the resources, choosing profit over ecosystem conservation, and then disregard the waste, usually produced by burning them.

Man's biggest accomplishment to date was learning to make fire. His next one needs to be to learn how to not need it..



posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 10:54 PM
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reply to post by ColCurious
 


I do not think that creating new labels to capitalism will hide the fact that capitalism to be capitalism is always what you redefined as "locust capitalism". The idea of free markets is only a re-branding and a demand for legislative protection to let economic agents operate freely, that is in contrast to the corporatism that has overtaken the US and most of the Western world (if not a larger part of the world), that shifts the balance of power toward the larger economic players.

Its like a endless discussion on wikimedia projects about what is the definition of consensus, that devolve into things like "strict consensus" and other shenanigans in an attempt to weasel out new definitions. Consensus is no stated objection, there is no chance for things like "strictly consensual" sex...

Capitalism is the same, as it is communism and the other isms, they are solid definitions that can not and should not be watered down, as they become something completely different or a subset of the parent (but the meaning of the parent is still absolute).

When people say there has not been a true communist system to those that affirm that communist has been proven as a failed system the issue is the same and the same error exists when people say that capitalism has failed or is failing, also untrue, since no capitalistic system was ever fully implemented. Socialism on the other hand has been implemented and to a degree works (it is dangerous and expensive) but I do not see socialism as a final stage, but a step towards communism (in that I agree with some of the claims of the right in the US).

Very few people would want to live in a true capitalistic society, only the 1%s and even then it would be dog eats dog amongst them and a true end of citizenship. Citizens would be reduced to work/energy units, producers, consumers, controllers and slaves, in a predatory power structure with no space to the weak or a chance to opt out (that already is inexistent, even if today one can still chose not to fully participate).

edit on 31-1-2013 by Panic2k11 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 11:00 PM
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reply to post by Reflection
 




There is no doubt this system requires infinite growth to be sustainable. Which is impossible on a finite planet. It's beginning to become a cliche, but no one seems to know how important it is.. Kind of weird.

I think the problem is that we still assume growth requires more and more consumption, or depletion of resources..


Growth can not be sustained in a finite system, even if we expand outside of our planet the system remains limited to our technological capacity. But the issue is not even the resources but the social implications of the aggressive competition for them, that is why socialism has been implemented in some nations, to protect and benefit society not the individual, A trade off in regards to freedoms and obligations in regards to the individual versus the community.

Growth can still occur in an unoptimized finite system, via optimization of cycles, production and consumption but only to a degree, the biggest pressure on the system today is demographics and the end of cheap energy. There is still coal but that would haste the end of it all, energy consumption and demographics are intertwined all things can be and are reduced to work units (people and energy are work units).
edit on 31-1-2013 by Panic2k11 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 11:16 PM
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reply to post by Panic2k11
 


Originally posted by Panic2k11
reply to post by ColCurious
 

I do not think that creating new labels to capitalism will hide the fact that capitalism to be capitalism is always what you redefined as "locust capitalism".


I understand your point about different labeling, I just don't thinks it's very pragmatic or practical to deny that fine nuances to market philosophies exist within capitalistic systems.

Would you consider the German social market economy to be capitalism, socialism or something inbetween?
edit on 31-1-2013 by ColCurious because: still not enough coffee yet



posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 11:20 PM
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reply to post by CB328
 




Sustainability is what we should be moving towards.


Requires a too drastic policy change to TPTB, they require radical chances in education and technological development and a huge restructuring of economic relations (no subsidies, no dumping, no long range transport of products that can be locally produced) and a radical shift on the way energy is utilized. This of course requires a strict control on demographics and consumption that would be to radical to some social and political systems, in fact part of the collapse today can be seen as a forceful imposition of some of these changes but an a pace and in a way that is extremely painful and that will not guaranteed a fair outcome or a soft landing.



posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 11:32 PM
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reply to post by ColCurious
 


I would classify it in something in between but more closely aligned with the aspiration of a socialist society, note that Germany has historic traumas and reasons to have a different view and policies. Germany has also always been an Industrial power house, I would put it in a close orbit of the corporatism of the US but with stronger care for future generations.

A society adopts systems to compete and survive in specific environments, one needs to consider not the system alone but the system in relation to its neighbors. This is why the US had so much paranoia about "communist influence" in North America and in retaining control on what it perceives as strategic interests when looking at those resources, be it cheap work, extra living resource area (agriculture, water) or consumers of weapons and technology. The same type of relations occurs with every nation in regards to its neighbors.
edit on 31-1-2013 by Panic2k11 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 11:35 PM
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reply to post by Panic2k11
 


This goes back to what I was saying at the beginning of the OP about ideologies, or "isms."

They are dangerous if we hold them too tightly. Why?

Because they are not divine.. I don't mean that in a religious sense, but more of a scientific sense. There is only one perfect order.. you could even call it a dictator, and that is the natural order.

The problem with "isms" are that they are artificial. We create them with our limited, little monkey brains. And then we irrationally hold them too tightly, because we are comfortable with them and our identities are attached to them.

If there is anything history has taught us, it's that ideologies are made to be broken. So we better be ready to let them go when their time is up. The idea should be to constantly be learning more about the natural order, while refining systems around that understanding.

That's why something that's been tried and failed like "socialism" is definitely not the way to go. We need to think outside of the box using the latest information when designing new systems. While being prepared to letting obsolete ones go.. Kinda like we do with cell phones and computers, only much better..



posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 11:47 PM
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reply to post by Panic2k11
 


There is a way that radical change can happen without the need for policy changes or TPTB giving up power and control.. and that's the majority of the people choosing to not support them with their wallets.

They have most of the power, because we give it to them.

Obviously, the biggest obstacle to overcome regarding that are the propaganda monsters and education wizards, so the masses can make better choices. Clearly no small task.



posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 11:47 PM
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reply to post by Panic2k11
 

I agree for the most part, except I'd rather label our social market economy as "humane capitalism" (as Wilhelm Röpke defined it).
Our definitions truly are relative to the given circumstances I guess.

You make sense and I'd prefer to continue this conversation, but I have to leave to work now.
edit on 31-1-2013 by ColCurious because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 11:54 PM
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reply to post by Reflection
 


Ideology (doctrine, philosophy, body of beliefs or principles belonging to an individual or group.)

Social order (a set of linked social structures, social institutions and social practices which conserve, maintain and enforce ways of relating and behaving, a social contract.)

Idiology =/= Social order

A social order may have a supporting ideology but a social order is simply a reflection of or a theory in regards to social interactions that include economic interactions. A social order is absolute and ideology is the absolute belief in the intrinsic value of that social order. Sometimes the ideology has not real connection to the proposed social order (system), in that regard as you say its like a religious belief, and it can be broken and reshaped, but the theory continue to reflect the same relations. How can I put this, you can change your ideology but you can not change a social order, you can however create a new model/theory for a social order...


Social theorists (such as Karl Marx, Émile Durkheim, Talcott Parsons, and Jürgen Habermas) have proposed different explanations for what a social order consists of, and what its real basis is. For Marx, it is the relations of production or economic structure which is the basis of a social order. For Durkheim, it is a set of shared social norms. For Parsons, it is a set of social institutions regulating pattern of action-orientations, which again are based on a frame of cultural values. For Habermas, it is all of these, as well as communicative action.

From wikipedia's Social order

The "isms" cover a multitude of different theoretical possible systems (at least in concept they are all viable). The ideological discussion is reduced to how to go about implementing them and what is the best social model...


political ideology is a certain ethical set of ideals, principles, doctrines, myths or symbols of a social movement, institution, class, and or large group that explains how society should work, and offers some political and cultural blueprint for a certain social order.

A political ideology largely concerns itself with how to allocate power and to what ends it should be used. Some parties follow a certain ideology very closely, while others may take broad inspiration from a group of related ideologies without specifically embracing any one of them. The popularity of an ideology is in part due to the influence of moral entrepreneurs, who sometimes act in their own interests. Political idd ad political action committee are in a form related

From wikipedia's List of political ideologies

To defend of oppose a social order one needs to understand the social oder theory behind it. For instance my favorite one in anarcho-communism (a subset of communism that should not be confused with communism itself).
edit on 31-1-2013 by Panic2k11 because: (no reason given)





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